My Top 10 favorite Stand Up Comedians

I had a lot of comedy albums growing up and these were my favorites.

10: Steve Martin – His Wild and Crazy album, Let’s Get Small, and Comedy is Not Pretty stayed on my turntable forever.

Steve Martin 1977/Norman Seeff

9: Sam Kinison – His routine of Are You Lonesome Tonight is worthy enough to have him on this list.

RIP Sam Kinison (@samkinisonrip) | Twitter

8: Chris Rock – I followed him from SNL on.

Hire Chris Rock - Speaker Fee - Celebrity Speakers Bureau

7: Eddie Murphy – His eighties standup videos are still staples of the era.

Eddie Murphy : Red Leather Suit | Julietchin's Blog

6: Bob Newhart – If you like dry humor…this is your man.

Bob Newhart on The Dean Martin Show - Sir Walter Raleigh - YouTube

5: George Carlin – Carlin was just so cool. His routines are well known now. He was topical and many of the things he expressed are true today. He was also on the first SNL episode.

George Carlin was right: other drivers are 'idiots' and 'maniacs'

4: Woody Allen – He had a wit as quick as you could get. His stand up from the sixties is outstanding. I had a friend with a lot of his standup routines that we listened to in the 80s.

Woody Allen - Stand up comic: Second Marriage - YouTube

3: Robin Williams/Jonathan Winters – Williams and Winters were very similar because Winters was a huge influence on Robin Williams. They could pick any subject and make it funny.

Lunch with Jonathan Winters

2: Bill Hicks – NOT family-friendly. Bill was as dark as they come but he made you think whether you agreed with him or not. He will offend EVERYONE… I like Denis Leary but Leary got a lot of his material from Hicks and cleaned it up. It can get uncomfortable listening to Bill…maybe that is the reason I liked him.

Bill Hicks: 25 years on from the cult comedian's big break • The ...

1: Richard Pryor – Richard was a game-changer…I had his albums growing up and he changed stand up comedy. He can make me laugh at any time.

Scarred Richard Pryor returns to film stand-up comedy show: Part ...

 

Honorable Mention: Albert Brooks, Lily Tomlin, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Klein, Joan Rivers, and Denis Leary.

***One comedian, I never understood…maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up in his time. He had an interesting story but I just never got Lenny Bruce. I find his material once in a while funny but many lists have him as number 1 or 2. Yes, he did make a huge impact on his profession like few others but I just don’t get him like some do.

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

68 thoughts on “My Top 10 favorite Stand Up Comedians”

    1. I stopped listening to standup in the late nineties and never had his albums…I did watch his show though. I did like him. I had most of Pryor’s albums.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have a Lenny Bruce box set- i saw it for like $5 -at a bookstore in Charleston, WV- and had a 3 hour drive home- I listened to the box set during the drive. I don’t think I laughed once.. maybe you had to be there… Richie Pryor no doubt #1- I don’t have many comedy albums but I have every album of his.

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      1. Same here up to that point I had heard some much/ read so much about Bruce–it was a let down–but again I am thinking it was a had to be there kind of thing. Oh well!

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    1. He is dark dark…talks about commercialism and America and how rock stars were once great (Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon) and now (at that time) all we had was Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. …He died of cancer at a young age.

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      1. Shake Shake Your Love…Oh I couldn’t take it. To clean for me.
        Tiffany was worse I give you that…she was a one trick pony. What he said about Gibson and Jimi Hendrix I cannot repeat but…it was really dark…I would have never gone there but it was funny.

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      2. That song was too poppish, yeah. I enjoyed “Only In My Dreams”. She wrote all the songs on her first two albums, did some producing and created her own record label.

        She is almost exactly four years younger than I am…by one day. At one time, she looked like a blonde Sandra Bullock.

        Hicks pulled no punches.

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      3. I agreed with Hicks on a lot of things…that is what was scary lol…just not in the same tone.

        Who did she marry?

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      1. Wow they do resemble…I just saw a page about that. He did die really young and quick of cancer.
        Denis Leary STOLE his act…and what album did Denis release? No Cure for Cancer…with stuff that Hicks had but Denis cleaned it up.

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      2. I’ve been reading about all that. Bill was pissed about that and, apparently, ended their friendship over it. Of course, Bill has been quoted as saying he stole some of Leary’s material…before Leary stole from him.

        Louis C. K. claimed material theft, too. I guess you could view all of this like open source programming. They all fed on each other. Robin Williams was notorious for borrowing from Milton Berle. Heh.

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      3. I heard Leary before I heard Bill…I listened to Bill and I thought shit…but “No Cure For Cancer”… that was not a thought out name. Bill was going through the last part at the time.

        All of them borrow but change it a little anyway. Same with music.

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      4. “No Cure For Cancer” alluded to Hicks’ Judas Priest joke. Leary recorded it in 1992 and his stand-up routine was recorded in 1992 (just found it on Netflix). The album was released Feb. 1993. Hicks wasn’t diagnosed with cancer until June 1993. It’s just a really bad coincidence. He shouldn’t have stolen the man’s material, verbatim. Hicks’ family could have easily sued for copyright.

        I’m not defending his actions. Just been reading…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I still do like Leary though…his routine. He was smarter than Hicks in that point. He cleaned up the dark edges for the masses. Hicks would NOT give in.
        Something sad happened with Hicks. He knew he was dying and Letterman said he could be on the show but Letterman ended up cutting his performance…it wasn’t anything really bad at all. Letterman said he regretted it because Bill died later.

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      6. Yes it does…I think Letterman ended up showing it a few years later…when it was too late really.
        Bill thought he was finally going to be on national tv.

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  2. my sweetie is with you on Richard Pryor, we had that discussion not long ago. He was funny, for sure. My own weird sense of humor would put Stephen wright atop my list – he makes me laugh so hard; I had his ‘I Have a Pony’ in the 80s and I listened to it so many times without tiring of it. I liked Dennis Miller back in the day too; after 9-11 he becamse primarily a Republican spokesman and recently when I have heard him, he doesn’t even sound coherent. John Mulaney (sp?) is a current one I like a lot.

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    1. I like Wright also I admit…he should have at least been in my honorable mentions. I never had any of his albums but loved the specials he has been on.
      There is one thing I noticed…the lack of female standups…from back in the era I looked at. Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller that Pam brought up are two…but I didn’t know that many.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I am NOT going to fall into the trap of saying there are no funny women or female comedians, but there really haven’t been many in comparison. I think fewer take it up and honestly, a big portion of those who do are one-noters “it’s tough being a woman, boy if men had babies/menstruated…” . ellen Degeneres was very funny early in her career, and not long ago I saw a special by Fortune Feister (I think her name is, from The Mindy Project) and she was quite funny andspanned a fair number of topics too.

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      2. There are some funny women but not all in standup. In my era you had Carol Burnett that Lisa mentioned, Gilda Radner, and others but I don’t remember none that were touring and doing albums like Phyllis Diller…though I know her more from tv.
        Ellen was funny earlier in her career. i think today there are probably more out there touring….I’m almost certain there are…. No I know the trap you talking about….
        just like we don’t want to hear men say….My arms are tired I flew all the way from Detroit….or take my wife please…drum bang.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Further to what Max is saying, I think a lot of the funny women on TV never did stand-up comedy… could be wrong but don’t think Mary Tyler Moore, or Betty White, through Catherine O’hara or Andrea Martin ever tried that, although they had great comedy skills. Compare that to men, where it seems most funny guys on TV get their start with stand up.

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      4. John Belushi said that phrase to Jane Curtain…Women aren’t funny…needless to say it didn’t go down well….his wife said he later changed his mind.

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      5. I attribute some of that to patriarchal society. MTM, White, Pearl, Diller, Rivers and Burnett came up in a time when women were secondary to the men. Gracie was, supposedly, the brains behind the operation but, George was the face, with her playing dumb. Same thing with Laugh-In…Goldie Hawn played dumb, Ruth Buzzi played mad and Tomlin played a child or Ernestine the telephone operator (women’s work). Edith Bunker always played stupid.

        Carol was a trailblazer…but, she really didn’t do stand-up, per se. She did Q & A. Diller & Pearl were trailblazers with Diller showing up as a guest on shows & Pearl with the Opry. Rivers came out of talk shows. The rest of the funny women just acted or showed up on Carson and rarely, if ever, got top billing.

        I would have to say that, once we emerged from the tumultuous 60s, things started to change. My own mother got into the bra-burning women’s lib and I was a Page in Raleigh when the nationwide ERA movement was happening. All-girl bands started showing up in the middle to late 70s. Once Saturday Night Live appeared, things started to shift.

        It’s still a male dominated area (that’s not a condemnation…just an observation) but, the 80s was the turning point, termed “the comedy boom of the 80s.” The Improv in NYC opened in 1963 and it’s LA branch in 1974. Once it debuted on A&E in 1982, the flood gates burst. Tomlin showed up there. Stand-up Spotlight started on VH-1 in 1988.

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      6. SNL did help turn it around. Lorne Michaels was a stickler on fair time for the women performers and most importantly women writers. If you watch the shows between 75-80 they are very even-handed between the two. The only two not to take off were Garret Morris and Laraine Newman…Laraine was because she almost refused to repeat characters…she was one of the best character actors they had…ever.

        Carol Burnette was amazing and yes they were all put on the back burner. Ruth Buzzi!!! I get her and Lily Tomlin mixed up at times.

        There is a stigma also with women…if they got up and slung profanity like the guys…they are looked down upon a little more…but you know what? Men or Women cannot be funny without hurting someone’s feelings now.

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      7. Yeah. The politically correct crowd has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. Humorless bunch, they are… Now, it’s a race to see who can be the biggest victim…followed by the race to represent & speak for said victims. Donations, anyone? 🤲

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on Lenny Bruce. My husband likes him. I think he’s more intellectually observational than he is funny. I like to listen to him for that, but when I want to laugh at smart comedy I’d rather go with George Carlin, or Richard Pryor.
    I’m glad you brought up Jonathan Winters. I love him. I really like Phyllis Diller too. And I like Steven Wright a lot and Sarah Silverman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the movie Lenny…that is about it. You described him perfectly…

      Phyllis Diller is one I wish I would have brought up…and Steven Wright. One thing I noticed Pam is the lack of popular female standup in that era compared to the others. Joan Rivers and Diller are two…I like Silverman also. I dont’ know how I forgot Diller…

      I thought of Gilda Radner and others but they were actresses not standup. Maybe there were more but I didn’t know about them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was Williams quick thinking I liked…. but after a while… he does tend to get on my nerves. I can only take him in doses. I will check out Barry Humphreys and Everidge.

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  4. I know what you mean about Lenny Bruce: I think we were born too late to get a lot of his comedy. Mort Sahl was another one.

    I’d have a lot of the same people on my list, but toss in a couple of song parodists, Allan Sherman and Tom Lehrer. Bob & Ray and Shelley Berman would make the list as well. I have a special place in my heart for Bob Newhart: we both attended Loyola University Chicago and got degrees in Business Administration, about 20 years apart…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if Morey Amsterdam did standup? I know I would have liked him.
      I forgot about Bob and Ray…I have heard some of their stuff and I like it…Newhart is one of a kind…I love his dry standup and his show.
      That is cool about Bob…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’ s a point I made to someone else recently… we (our age) think of Newhart as the semi- funny sitcom guy & guy who gets to have Zoey Deschanel sit on his lap in Elf. But at one time, he was HUGE…like outselling Elvis or Beach Boys big with his comedy records. He was funny AND I bet he inspired alot of 70s stars to go into comedy in the first place.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He really was… I remember his specialty was the telephone one way conversation.
        You are right…in the sixties his albums were huge.

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  5. I’m with you on 10, 5, and 3. My list: Carol Burnett, Marc Maron, Bill Cosby (like Woody Allen, I thought he was funny until I realized how evil he was), Dave Chappelle, Rodney Dangerfield, Ricky Gervais (one of the funniest and most honest men who ever lived), Stephen Colbert (brilliant!), Jon Stewart (brilliant!), John Oliver (brilliant!), Hannah Gadsby, and Tracey Ullman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised at the lack of women back then….at least that I listened to. I did miss Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, and Silverman…but the only one I heard a lot was Diller and that was only on tv shows.
      I’m going to see if they had albums out. Lily Tomlin did I’m sure.

      The most intellectual one of my bunch was Hicks…but he was so dark. I can’t help though but love Pryor. I do like Dangerfield…he helped comics a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I would certainly have Louie CK, Seinfeld and Bill Burr on my list, but I am by no means a big Stand-Up aficionado. I agree that despite his immense influence I didn’t find Lenny Bruce particularly funny. I wrote a post a long time ago about how comedy in general doesn’t seem to age well since it is so dependent on the personal connection to the artist and era it was communicated. I even noticed my favorite sit com ‘Seinfeld’ is beginning to age as its social commentary is becoming less and less ‘current’.

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    1. Yea I stopped listening to it in the late nineties…that is why my list leaves a gap. I only counted the ones I really listened to back then… I might pull out some old Pryor soon.

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      1. Yeh, like I remember when I watched Eddie Murphy give those ‘Raw’ routines and I was besotted. Then I watched them recently and it just didn’t have the same ‘umph’ as I remember. Comedy I believe is clearly at its best in the time it is set. That doesn’t mean we can’t remember fondly of who made us laugh, on the contrary!

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  7. I will have to look up Hicks. In reading through your list and the comments, I’m quite pleased to see no mention at all of Don Rickles. So, I’m sorry to be the one to mention his name among these actually great comedians. He was cruel, which isn’t funny, and it’s proper that he be totally forgotten, imo. There are two on your list who I wish were still doing comedy, and they are Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. They’ve moved on, and so have I, but I’d love them to still be doing amazing comedy.

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    1. Yea Hicks is really about as dark as they come. I liked it in the 90s but I don’t know if I would like it now….
      Now an update… Between what she was doing with Easter and the masks. She did make progress and got frustrated a few times but she got back on it. She got some accomplished and after work today she said she willl be back on them.

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      1. That is good progress on the masks. Being able to walk away and come back to it helps too. I spent the weekend being more creative and less productive with them. That helped alleviate some burnout.

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      1. I will say that I like most of your list (not all). One female comedian that is a fave is Jeanne Robertson. I went to school with her son, Beaver. We are the same grad class, I just left his high school. The Beav has his mother’s sense of humor and has quite the following on FB. Jeanne is 6′ 2″ and the Beav is 6′ 8″.

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      2. Heh. Funny you should mention that. I saw her for the first time in middle school. She came to entertain us and the teachers in the auditorium. One of her opening lines was…”I have a son named Beaver and a hamster named Person.” Beaver’s full name is Walter Bailey Bowline…the IV…named after his Dad. His grandfather:
        https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/76995679/walter-bailey-bowline

        As a tie-in to the Elon tornado, Beav made a crack, once, on FB that he shoved five years into four at Elon College.

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  8. The only audio of comedy I’ve ever had was an LP of Tom Lehrer (which I think originally belonged to my sister). I prefer to watch rather than just listen to comedy acts. I love Robin Williams – and was very sad when he died – and I can watch Chris Rock but in that genre I prefer Dave Chappelle (if you’ve not seen him, do: there’s plenty on Youtube. Go for the uncensored stuff.) I’ll send you a couple or so clips of people I enjoy, when I reply to your email.

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